Have you ever considered creating performance indicators to manage your service desk? The answer is probably “yes”. But what if I asked if you actually have created these indicators? I’m not sure I would get the same answer. The biggest barrier seems to be in analytics.

Setting up metrics is not always as simple as creating a number you want to reach. You need to set KPIs that you need to shoot for. In my experience in the service desk area and as a TOPdesk consultant, I’ve seen a lot of situations where the metrics were not helping at all. For instance, your IT department’s KPI numbers might always be green – which is good – but that is quite easily the case if you set too simple KPIs. So how do we create effective KPis and metrics?

Just getting started with targets for your department? These are the things to consider

Are your metrics effective?

The purpose of tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is to achieve clear, well-defined goals that are aligned with your organization’s activities. Is your organization focused on decreasing the average time per ticket, or cost per ticket? Then it’s useless to spend energy looking at backlog charts. Naturally every improvement is welcome, and you should measure all the pillars of good management. But business goals need to remain the focus.

The next step in building good metrics is getting to grips with your situation. How is your service desk currently operating? At the moment, it doesn’t really matter if the outlook is promising or less so. The important thing is to know whether the numbers at hand show what’s going on in your department. Be honest with yourself – and by that I mean “be critical of yourself”.

Another important factor for successful metrics is support from your team. What happens if you tell your team that you want 90% incident resolution on the first call, without any justification? You’ll risk having people mask the true numbers to please their superiors. Altered numbers will cause metrics to be overlooked and distort reality. That’s why it is extremely important to talk to all of the team. Involve them in your goals, and make sure they understand which role they will play to achieve the goals. Show the difficulties and, in turn, listen to the criticisms and pains of the daily operation.

Is your KPI smart?

When you’re ready to set up your KPI, make sure that your KPI is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely). For those not aware of the acronym, it means that the indicator should be:

  • Specific: Describe in a simple and understandable way what the KPI is about and how it will be measured.
  • Measurable: Use only concrete information with no margin for errors or doubts.
  • Achievable: Set goals that really can be achieved. Working with extremely strict metrics that always stay in the red will discourage your team.
  • Relevant: Metrics in green are beautiful, but they must have value for the business. Make sure you are evaluating relevant points for the company.
  • Timely (deadlines): Determine deadlines for evaluating your progress. If your KPI is always red, you need to evaluate how you’re going to fix the problem. If your KPI is always green, it’s time to further improve your team’s performance.

KPIs are much more than simple “shots in the dark”. Keep this in mind when you create metrics, and you’ll surely increase your team’s success. But remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to invest time in the evaluation of the indicators. And when your process is stable? Look for larger referrals. Do competitor research. Compare your numbers with other companies. Start benchmarking. And remember: avoid self-deception as much as possible. Red numbers, but true numbers, have more value than manipulated green numbers.